A victory by the Edmonton Eskimos this Friday can accomplish two goals for the club.
The first will be to end a three-game losing streak that has seen them fall into last place in the Western Division.
Task No. 2 is to eliminate Toronto [3-11] from postseason action for the second consecutive year, something the Argonauts are well aware of.
“I think it’s more important that we know we have to win and control what we can control,” Argos quarterback Kerry Joseph said to the Canadian Press. “We know that mathematically we’re still alive.”
With 12 points, the Eskimos are currently tied with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for the league’s final playoff spot. The Argos are in last place overall with six points and must win to keep their slim postseason hopes alive.
Both teams will meet at the Rogers Centre [7:30 ET] in a battle between a Toronto offence scoring the least amount of points per game [18.9] against an Edmonton defence allowing the most points [30.7].
While earlier reports in the week had quarterback Stephen Reaves preparing for his first career start due to Joseph sustaining a neck injury last week, the league’s 2007 most outstanding player says he is ready to start.
“I’ve been fine all week long,” Joseph said. “Everything has been good, the body feels good. Just ready to go.”
The Louisiana native will need a far stronger performance against the Eskimos [6-8] than he did in his second return to Mosaic Stadium, where Joseph completed just eight of 22 passes for 82 yards.
While Argos head coach Bart Andrus has looked for a solution to the team’s muddled quarterback situation all season long, the Eskimos’ Ricky Ray is in the middle of another strong campaign.
He is currently averaging 280 yards passing per game, has thrown 19 touchdowns and sports a 97.5 quarterback rating.
Argo defensive tackle Jonathan Brown knows his team will have to constantly pressure the Grey Cup’s most valuable player in 2005 if they are to emerge victorious for the second time in 11 games.
“That’s an offence that’s still pretty potent anytime you have No. 15 [Ray] back there,” he said.
“I know they’ve lost some games lately but as long as he’s back there all it takes is one game to have a breakout game and get the offence going again.”
Despite an Argo defence currently allowing the second most points per game [26.8], Ray knows he can’t take Toronto lightly, and that the season is on the line.
“You want to get the ball down the field and make some plays, but you’ve got to be patient and not force the issue,” the quarterback said.
“You’ve got to be efficient and put some long drives together. When they do give you an opportunity, you have to take advantage of it.”
This is the first of two meetings betweens the two clubs this month. They will next play in Edmonton on Oct .30.